Doula vs Midwife: Difference and Comparison

Before, during, and after childbirth, the mother, child, and other family members require various types of assistance.

Physical and emotional assistance is important during childbirth, and that is why people need doulas and midwives. They both have different responsibilities during the pregnancy period. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Doulas provide emotional, physical, and educational support to expecting mothers, while midwives are healthcare professionals trained to manage pregnancies and deliver babies.
  2. Midwives have a broader scope of practice, including clinical responsibilities and the ability to administer medications, while doulas do not provide medical care.
  3. Doulas can support women throughout their pregnancy, while midwives become involved during the later stages and focus on prenatal care, delivery, and postpartum care.

Doula vs Midwife

A doula is a trained professional who offers emotional, physical, and educational support to the mother and her partner before, during, and after childbirth. A midwife is a healthcare professional who is trained to provide medical care during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care.

Doula vs Midwife

A doula is a person who provides various kinds of physical relaxing techniques, massage, and emotional support to the parents during pregnancy and childbirth.

They are not clinically trained to deliver babies, but they support the mother by teaching them various relaxation and breathing techniques. 

A midwife is a trained healthcare professional who helps out a woman to deliver a healthy baby.  They are clinically trained to give birth both at hospitals and at home.

Doctors don’t recommend giving birth to twins only under the supervision of a midwife because it is complicated. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDoulaMidwife
Job DescriptionThe main jobs of a doula include providing breathing technique support, various relaxing methods, massage, and provide comfort emotionally. The main jobs of a midwife include performing gynecological examinations, prescribing medications, fetal monitoring, providing contraception counseling, etc. 
Delivering BabiesA doula is not trained to deliver babies. A midwife is clinically trained to deliver babies. 
Medical trainingDoulas do not go through medical training and hence cannot be used as a substitute for midwives. Midwives have medical training to deliver a healthy baby during the childbirth process. 
CertificationA doula doesn’t need a formal license but organizations offer doula training programs but are optional. The American Midwifery Certification Board certifies midwives in the US. 
SignificanceDoulas mainly support the birthing parents before, during, and after childbirth. Their main concern is to help the mother relax and deliver without stress through various emotional and physical techniques. Midwives make sure that both a mother and the baby receive continuous care from trained professionals especially during childbirth. 
AdvantagesDoulas help in providing proper massage and physical relaxing techniques and support the mother and other family members emotionally. A midwife reduces the risk of preterm birth, induced labor, third and fourth-degree perineal tears, and infant mortality rates.  

What is Doula?

Doulas are people who provide various physical and emotional support to a pregnant woman during the time of pregnancy and childbirth.

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They are not medically trained professionals and are not allowed to perform surgeries or deliver babies. Many organisations now provide training programs, and they don’t require a formal license. 

The doulas provide continuous care during labour. There are two types of doulas, antepartum doulas and postpartum doulas.

The former supports the mother before the child is born and helps in reducing the risk of preterm labour, whereas the latter assists the mother after the baby is born. 

Generally, a doula is hired during the second or third trimester. They teach the mother various relaxation and breathing techniques, provide massage, and help change positions during labour.

A doula can also attend childbirth classes as a substitute for the father. 

What is a Midwife?

A midwife is a trained professional and requires a formal license to practice as one. They are trained to conduct several gynaecological examinations, prescribe medications, and deliver babies.

They can either deliver at home or in the hospital. In case of complications, it is advised that they deliver in a hospital under the supervision of a gynaecologist. 

Midwives receive various levels of training. For example, certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) receive different education as compared to certified midwives (CMs).

The lay midwives do not have certification and only receive informal training. There are also certified professional midwives (CPMs), but they are not permitted to practice in all the states. 

The midwives are responsible for delivering babies as well as referring them to a doctor when needed. They also conduct various prenatal exams and give proper education regarding childbirth and pregnancy.

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A midwife also closely watches your psychological health. 

Main Differences Between Doula and Midwife

  1. The main jobs of a doula include providing breathing technique support, various relaxing methods, massage, and provide comfort emotionally. On the other hand, a midwife can perform several gynaecological examinations and prescribe medications to the mother. 
  2. A doula is not trained to deliver babies, whereas a midwife is clinically trained to deliver babies. 
  3. Doulas do not go through medical training and hence cannot be used as a substitute for midwives whereas midwives have medical training to deliver a healthy baby during the childbirth process. 
  4. A doula doesn’t need a formal license, whereas the American Midwifery Certification Board certifies midwives in the US.
  5. The main concern of a doula is to help the mother relax and deliver without stress through various emotional and physical techniques whereas midwives make sure that both a mother and the baby receive continuous care from trained professionals, especially during childbirth.
  6. The advantage of hiring a doula is that they help provide proper massage and physical relaxing techniques and emotionally support the mother and other family members. On the other hand, a midwife reduces the risk of preterm birth, induced labour, third and fourth-degree perineal tears, and infant mortality rates. 
Difference Between Doula and Midwife
References
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187151921000082X
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0266613810000574

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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9 thoughts on “Doula vs Midwife: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This article provides a much-needed clarification on the differences between doulas and midwives. It dispels common misconceptions and informs readers about the unique roles of both professions.

    Reply
  2. The article presents a comprehensive comparison, shedding light on the distinct responsibilities of doulas and midwives. This will undoubtedly help individuals make better-informed decisions about their birthing preferences.

    Reply
    • Absolutely, Pauline94. By understanding the differences and advantages of each role, individuals can make well-informed decisions that are aligned with their unique needs and preferences.

      Reply
  3. This article provides a clear, concise comparison about the roles of doulas and midwives. It helps expecting mothers understand their options and make informed decisions about their care.

    Reply
  4. Informative article! It’s great to see a well-researched and detailed comparison of the roles of doulas and midwives. The information presented here could prove incredibly valuable for women and families navigating pregnancy and childbirth.

    Reply
  5. This is so important. I’m glad it highlights the distinction between doulas and midwives, as well as their unique roles in supporting women and families throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care.

    Reply
    • I wholeheartedly agree, Andrew46. The emphasis on the importance of their roles and contributions is clear in the article.

      Reply
    • Absolutely, Andrew46. Both doulas and midwives play critical roles in providing the necessary support and care for mothers and families during such an important time.

      Reply
  6. Very informative article. It is well explained the differences between the two professions and I appreciate the detailed comparison.

    Reply

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